Is the digital world making poets of us all?
As copywriters, I think we create an oddball sort of poetry. It’s a funny little poet-esque dance we do, plucking out the right words and jiggling them into a pleasing order.
In fact, maybe we have more in common with poets than we think.
Check it out.
Do people really want to read the phrase ‘think outside the box’ or ‘once in a lifetime’ ever again? Be poet-like. Reach for the words that will take your readers by surprise with their power and originality.
Evoke, don’t emote
Ever read something that feels like the author is speaking directly to you? Like they’re inside your head? Words that make us think, or even better, feel, are much more likely to make us act than when a message bores on in a self-indulgent way that fails to consider the reader at all.
“The best words, in the best order”
That’s what Samuel Taylor Coleridge said about poetry, the old romantic. For me, this is about the line at which content churn ends and powerful, effective copywriting begins. Many years ago, when I was young and inexperienced, I wrote simply to fill space. I earned very little, and my soul was slowly eroded. Life is better when you write to please people, not just search engines.
Use white space in a beautiful way
Remember Livejournal? That was peak massive-blocks-of-text writing and it was 15 years ago. Our browse-happy brains move too fast to stay on a line all the way to the end these days. Make it look digestible. Like word tapas.
Stay honest, stay authentic
I mean, not lying is pretty obvious. But being authentic is more nuanced than that. When you’re writing, keep hold of your humanity. Forget the great bonfire of the internet raging between us all; you’re still a person talking to another person.
Speak with rhythm
I love a short sentence, but sometimes I can’t help myself drifting into a long one. Learn from the poets and greatest writers of prose and use the beat to make it work. Keep it long, lazy and luscious. Or make it punch.
Make your reader feel something real and emotional
Robert Frost said “Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and a thought has found its words”. How perfect is that? There is nothing more satisfying than finding words for the intangible mess of feeling. If you can articulate the inarticulable, and put it in front of somebody in a way that captures them, well, that’s the cut-through. That’s copywriting. I mean poetry. I mean… both?
What do you think? Can we can learn something about our own writing from poets? Or does the idea of high art and the digital world colliding give you the heebie-jeebies?